BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Karla Maraccini has joined Mile High United WayAs Vice President of Community Impact and Strategy in January 2018 to serve our community by overseeing strategic investments, grantmaking,policy, early childhood education, and youthprogramming in the Community Investment Division in order to improve outcomes for individuals, families, and the greater Metro Denver community through the four impact goal areas: giving all children a strong start, ensuring children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade, developing tomorrow’s talent by helping youth graduate from high school ready for post-secondary education and entry into the workforce, and by creating economic opportunities for all.She previously served as a Program Analyst (Community Mobilizer and “Readiness Builder”) for the USDA in SNAP Employment & Training to assist states in their implementation of programs designed to provide education, training, and support to SNAP households in gaining skills, training, work or experience that increase their ability to obtain regular employment at livable wages. Prior to this, Karla served the State of Colorado as the Director of Community Partnerships at the Office of Governor Hickenlooper assisting the administration with coordination, fundraising, and management of more than 14 projects/initiatives including the No Kid Hungry campaign, “Don’t Be a Lab Rat” youth marijuana use prevention campaign, Pedal The Plains, the Governor’s Clergy Council, and the Governor’s Executive Internship Program. Karla has extensive knowledge of human services systems and has worked with individuals and families impacted by abuse, neglect, substance abuse, poverty, housing and food insecurity, and mental health issues in several capacities. She is an active community volunteer and has received recognition such as “2016 FNCS Abraham Lincoln Honor Award” from President Barrack Obama for community volunteerism, “Governor’s 2012 Public Service Employee of the Year” award, “5281: Denver Employee Recognition” award from theCity and County of Denver for outstanding service and dedication and “Civis Dignationis (Distinguished Citizen) Award”, from the City and County of Denver Auditor’s Office for service collaboration. Karla also accepted the “2008 Outstanding Community Agency” award from Colorado Employee Assistance Professionals and the 2009 Achievement Award from Partnership for a Drug Free America dramatically impacting drug use in the community. Karla is in the inaugural Colorado Civic DNA class through the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation and completed Leadership Denver in 2014. She serves as the chair of the board for Harm Reduction Action Center and previously served on the boards for Food Rescue Alliance, Warren Village, Denver Community Corrections, Crime Prevention & Control Commission, Advocates for Recovery, Governor’s Meth Task Force, Colorado Combined Campaign, and SBIRT Steering Committee. She has called Colorado “home” for nearly 30 years and has been rescued by several shelter dogs who are her pride and joy.
Alia Al-Tayyib is an Assistant Research Scientist at Denver Public Health and Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health. Dr. Al-Tayyib’s primary research interests focus on behavioral risk for acquiring and transmitting HIV, STIs, and viral hepatitis, specifically the social and structural determinants of risk. She oversees all aspects of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance project in Denver in addition to hepatitis C testing and linkage activities in the Denver Metro Health Clinic. Dr. Al-Tayyib recently received a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study factors that accelerate or inhibit transition from oral ingestion of prescription opioids to injection drug use among at-risk youth. She received her PhD and MSPH degrees in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was a Clinical Faculty Scholar at the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.
Lt. Layla DeStaffany is a native of South Carolina who moved to Colorado to attend college at the United States Air Force Academy. Upon Graduation, she served for over nine years as an Air Force Pilot during which time she earned her MBA from City University. After spending over three years as a pilot for United Air Lines, Layla was furloughed and decided it was time to consider a career change, which led her to law enforcement. She was hired by the Denver Police Department in 2004 where she worked in patrol until becoming a founding member of the Homeless Outreach Team in 2007. During her time in Homeless Outreach, Layla became involved with the folks that HRAC serves as well as the staff. The shared commitment to better public safety for all is one of the bonds that makes the police and HRAC good partners. Lieutenant DeStaffany is currently assigned to patrol in northwest Denver.
Helen Espinosa-Alvillar is a Colorado native and she has been employed at Rocky Mountain PBS since December, 1986 in their Finance and Administration department doing several jobs, currently Accounting & Benefit’s Administrator.
She is mother to Leo John Espinosa whom she lost to an accidental overdose of heroin on on May 6 2008. Since Leo’s death she has partnered with the Harm Reduction Action center lobbying for legislation to support both SB12-020 911 Good Samaritan and SB13-014 Colorado Third Party Naloxone bills. She is also a member of the (TCF) The Compassionate Friends a non-profit organization for bereaved parents. She also acts as Co-Chair to TCF Outreach alone with 2 other bereaved mothers.
Dr. Joshua Blum is a Medical Advisor and Program Manager at Denver Health’s HIV Primary Care Clinic. With a Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and an M.D from University of Southern California, he has cared for injection drug users throughout his career, starting as early as his second year of medical school, working at the Hollywood Free clinic and attending his first addiction medicine conference that same year.
As a provider of primary care to HIV+ individuals, mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds, he works on a daily basis with injection drug users and the homeless. Additionally, he provides HIV and general primary care to patients in the Denver City and County jails. As a general internist caring for these high-risk populations, he has longstanding interests in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain syndromes, opioid management, and substance abuse, and has led quality initiatives on pain and opioid management at Denver Health. Blum also served on the Denver HIV Resources Planning Council, previously chaired the Colorado HIV/AIDS Prevention Program grant committee, and is now serving on the Medical Advisory Committee for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Blum is a Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado – School of Medicine and continues to lecture locally and regionally on pain management, opioids, and substance abuse.
Matt Slaby is a co-founder of Luceo, a creative visual agency specializing in photography, cinema, and production for clients ranging in scope from NYC Health to National Geographic. He believes that the best advocacy for positive social change is rooted in real, honest stories. Slaby began his visual career working as an editorial photographer for the nation’s leading magazines. Slaby worked in emergency services as a Hotshot firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service and as an EMT with a metropolitan ambulance service. Slaby is also an attorney with a J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.
Kate Harris has spent her career working at the intersection of public health and public policy, mostly on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Washington State and Colorado. In Fall 2018, Kate was selected to be the Director of the Office of the Ombudsman for Behavioral Health Access to Care, where she leads the office working to address barriers to Coloradans effectively accessing mental health and substance use treatment.
Prior to this Kate was the Policy and External Affairs Director at Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s health insurance marketplace. In this role she led the organization’s public policy development and legislative engagement, and worked to increase health insurance access, affordability, and choice for Coloradans. Kate holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance with a graduate certificate from the University of Washington’s School of Public Health.
Reut Tenne began volunteering at The Harm Reduction Action Center after losing a close friend to an overdose. Through her volunteer work, she witnessed how HRAC truly embodies the principles of public health, and became a passionate harm reduction advocate. Reut holds a BS in Public Health from the George Washington University, an MPH in Epidemiology from the Colorado School of Public Health and a DVM from Colorado State University. Reut has experience working in both nonprofit and governmental public health agencies and she currently works as a small animal veterinarian. Reut is excited and honored to be serving on the HRAC Board of Directors and is motivated to serve injection drug users, and the larger Denver community.
Alicia Haywood is a Legislative and Regulatory Analyst for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There, she works to protect and improve the health of Colorado’s people and the quality of its environment through policy analysis and implementation. It was through her work at the department that Alicia first met some of the Harm Reduction Action Center staff and really fell in love with their work.
Alicia has more than a decade of experience in government affairs and in advocating to improve the lives of Coloradans. She is skilled in policy research and analysis, tracking legislation and regulation, building programs and coalitions, and developing and advocating for evidence-based policies. She was a 2014 National Rural Health Fellow and participated in the 2013 Office of Rural Health Policy Fellowship Program.
Alicia has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Colorado-Denver. When she isn’t in policy wonk mode, Alicia enjoys urban biking, amateur crafting and playing with her dog, Ramona Quimby.
Kayvan Khalatbari is an entrepreneur, community advocate and recent 2019 candidate for Mayor of Denver. He currently owns 13 businesses in multiple industries, which employ more than 300 people in eight states, including Birdy magazine, Denver Relief Consulting, Sexpot Comedy and Sexy Pizza in Denver. He also serves on the board of directors for the Colorado Village Collaborative, the Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestra and serves as Chairman for the Minority Cannabis Business Association. Additionally, he is a core member of the Alternative Solutions Advocacy Project, which was the primary force behind Denver’s first tiny home village. Kayvan is a fierce advocate for criminal justice and drug policy reform, the rights of people experiencing homelessness and promoting access to creative opportunities for youth and underserved populations. Additionally, Kayvan was the Lead Proponent of Initiative 300, which passed in 2016 making Denver the first city in the world to legalize the social consumption of cannabis. He has been a mentor in the Denver Kids program for more than a decade and recently established guardianship for two young girls, ages 7 and 11.
Cara Cheevers is the Policy Director at One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy and lobbying organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Coloradans and their families. In this role, she oversees the organization’s health program and executes its regulatory and research policy agendas. Prior to joining One Colorado, she served as Deputy Director of Serve Colorado – the Governor’s Commission on Community Service, managing a $5 million grant-making process to develop evidence-based AmeriCorps State programs to support poverty alleviation programs throughout Colorado communities. She is also a (very) proud AmeriCorps alumni herself. She served in a direct service capacity providing emergency housing and food services in the San Luis Valley, as well as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in the Office of Governor John W. Hickenlooper, working on issues related to rural homelessness issues and co-authoring the first statewide plan to prevent and end homelessness, Pathways Home Colorado.
Cara holds a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis and a Bachelor of Social Work and Bachelor of Spanish Language from Western Michigan University (Go Broncos!). She enjoys spending time outside, travel, and hanging out with her sweet and large-and-in-charge Olde English Bulldogge, Fiona.